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How to analyze people

Updated on April 4, 2011

Analyzing people

How do you read a person? How can you determine a person quickly without getting a ten year degree in psychology? Well, you are not going to be as good as an actually doctor in psychology, but these tips are helpful in making you more aware in what someone’s personality is like.

First, Know Yourself

This can be the most difficult for a person. You need to understand who you are as a person. Understand your likes, and dislikes, and what makes you tick. If you can understand yourself, you have over ½ of the battle won. We are all different, but we are also all similar.

We are all people. We all have basic needs. We are social creatures.

Hierarchy of five human motivational needs arranged by ascending order of importance, developed by Abraham Maslow. The five ascending needs are (1) physiological, (2) safety, (3) social, (4) esteem, and (5) self-actualization. Only unsatisfied needs are motivators. Once a need is satisfied, the next level emerges as a motivator.

What is the nature of the person you are trying to analyze?

Once you understand the basic needs of a person, you can better read that person.

Pay attention to the nature of the person.

As I mentioned earlier, we are all the same, but different. What is the nature of the person you are trying to analyze?

How do you determine someone’s nature? Pay attention to what that person does. What someone does with their spare time can tell you what their character is all about. Is that person helping charity? Going to church? Do they just work and go home?

If someone is active in the community it could mean they care about the community, or it could mean they are all about social status. In order to find out which is true, you should ask yourself a couple of questions.

Example questions you could ask:

What motivates this person to do this? Did he or she grow up in the community?

Does he or she have an active social life? Is this person in need of something?

When you ask yourself these questions, you can come up with a conclusion.

For example: Jill is a big helper in the community, and so is Bob.

Jill shows up to all of the town charities, and does not say a word to too many people about it. She has helped hundreds of people. Her social life revolves around helping others.

Bob is also a big help with the local community. He boasts to everyone about how much he has donated to the local charity, and he shows up every now and then. He has plenty of friends, and a very active social life.

It appears that Jill is helping the community from the goodness of her heart, and Bob is helping the community for some kind of social status.

That being said, we can take a wild educational guess that Bob is lacking somewhere in his life; he seeks the approval of others. It seems like Bob will go out of his way to get a pat on the back.

Since Jill is helping someone out of the goodness of her heart, you still need to ask yourself why. Maybe she has empathy for the people she is helping. Why would she have empathy for those people? Maybe she has been there, and she feels the need to be compassionate because she understands them.

Pay attention to what a person says


What does the person talk about?

Pay close attention at what a person says. We talk about what we find most important.

We are going to use Bob and Jill as another example.

Bob talks about how many people he has helped throughout the years, and his latest golf tournament.

Jill talks about children, helping others, and the latest church functions.

You can assume that Bob, again is lacking somewhere. It is natural to want to boast a little, but when a person does this continuously, it usually means they are thirsty for some kind of reward. Where might Bob be lacking in his life? Why is he so thirsty for the spotlight?

Jill seems to have a true need for helping people. We understand that she does it from empathy.

know body language


Pay attention to a person’s body language

Body language can tell you a person’s inner moods. What is their mood on a daily bases?

Jill appears to be even tempered, and happy. She walks with pep in her step so to speak. She looks towards the ground a lot, (since her movements say she is not un-happy) this indicates that she is an introvert, and probably all about feelings.

Bob seems to keep his head cocked high, he sticks his chest way out, to a point where it seems exaggerated. He walks stiff too. You can assume he wants to feel accepted, and by looking at Bob, you would think he was cocky. However, take a closer look. His stiff walk indicates that he is self-conscious, especially since he has no military back ground.

Be aware of cultural differences

If someone does something different, sometimes it is because their culture differs from yours. When you are trying to analyze someone, it is important to pay attention to where they are from. When you know a little more about where a person is from, you can also have a good idea about what their “normal” behavior is.

Making a general assumption on the persons nature

What is in that person’s nature? Do they do things for the better good? Or does the person always seem negative? A negative person is someone who is usually lacking somewhere. When our basic needs are not met, we can react to this in a few different ways. One of them is by being negative.

Pay attention to how a person is in general. We have positive people, negative people, and some people just sit in the middle.

Birds of a Feather

Is this person a loner, or do they associate with a certain crowd?  If a person associates with a certain type of crowd, chances are that they feel comfortable in that crowd for a reason. We have a tendency to like people that are more like us.

If a person associates with several different types of crowds, you can assume that person is an all-around person, with an open mind. Most open minded people are empathetic, and have, “been there and done that.”

If a person is inward, and does not associate with crowds, chances are that they do not feel the need to associate with others. Why would a person not want to associate with others? There may be several reasons for this. One reason is that a person may not feel like they belong with other people. Another reason can be because of a social fear. There are several other reasons that a person may withdraw their selves from socializing.

Ask a person why

There is a reason a person does something. Find out why. Ask this question when you see a person doing something. There is always a reason someone does something. If you can get an answer to why they are doing it, you can learn more about that person. Since we found out Bob is thirsty for something, maybe social status, ask yourself why. Did Bob have the social status as a child? If not, ask yourself what Bob would be capable of in order to achieve that, or what he could possibly behave like if he did not get that.

If Bob is already lacking in the area, then what do you suppose would happen if Tom threatened that? For most people, this would cause a dislike for that other person. It may sound silly, but it is the way most people work.

Why would he dislike Tom (someone who is just like him)? People do not dislike everyone that is just like them, only the ones that threaten their “needs.” Bob is probably not aware of why he dislikes Tom. All Bob understands is that Tom is a jerk.

Putting it all together:

After you ask yourself why a person does certain things, you can put it all together, and make an assumption about their character and motivations. Once you understand a person’s character and motivations, you can possibly predict their behavior in future circumstances.

basic overview of their personality


In conclusion

You may not be able to analyze someone like a psychiatrist does. However, this will give you a basic overview of their personality.

Do not judge someone’s faults. When you are reading someone, do it with an open mind. Understand that we all have faults, and what others consider imperfections.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Use spell check

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Are there any other good books on this subject?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Are there any other good books on this subject?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      difficult to understand but helpful in analyzing someone

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      6 years ago from Pune, India

      Thank you for sharing this great information....

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Chloe - "" Baisically im quite young and prety damn good at sychhology, ""

      And bloody **** - you don't know how to spell psychology.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You're not going to become and expert by googling's something like two percent of people are naturally good at reading people. If you're not of that percentage, you need to take classes.

    • vutto profile image


      7 years ago

      very difficult things you have discussed . thanks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You guy are such jackasses ! Get a life everyone is different and no book will ever tell you how some one is like!,!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Chloe: get a dictionary

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Baisically im quite young and prety damn good at sychhology, (not being biggheadded.) and i just wanna say that's a pretty insightful thig to read but theres way more that can b added. but thanx anyway tht was pretty useful cuz i only stareted on behavoural psychology last wek after doing disorders. But i must say that this will help with people i know with mpd. its gunna help a lot to be able to read their language better.

    • sarclair profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you marcoujor. I appreciate your sweet comment.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      8 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Sarclair~~ I respectfully believe that more clinicians need to read this (as degrees do not necessarily connect with skill). I found it to be extremely insightful and informative~~

      Voted UP, USEFUL & AWESOME... thank you!

    • sarclair profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you penless.

    • penless profile image


      8 years ago

      great hub...


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